April 23, 2019

Tumour samples and ultra-low temperatures

Learn about how the Ontario Tumour Bank evaluates the quality of tumour samples stored at ultra-low temperatures over the last decade.

April 9, 2019

Learn about the Ontario Tumour Bank

Monique Albert, Director of the Ontario Tumour Bank (OTB) explains how OTB provides cancer researchers with the high-quality biospecimens and data they need for their studies.

March 26, 2019

Deep freezing allows researchers to dig deep into tumour samples

The Ontario Tumour Bank evaluates the quality of tumour samples stored at ultra-low temperatures over the last decade

Before they are used in cancer research, tumour samples are often preserved in storage at extremely low temperatures, sometimes for several years. It is thought that these temperatures can stop all biological activity in samples and thus prevent DNA, RNA and other analytes from degrading, but this technique has never been tested for extended long-term preservation – or storage beyond a few years. Researchers at the Ontario Tumour Bank (OTB) recognized this concern and looked back over a decade of specimens to find out more.

In their recent study published in Biopreservation and Biobanking, they investigated how the quality of a sample may change over the course of 10 years in vapour-phase liquid nitrogen storage, also known as LN2 storage. They found evidence to show that LN2 storage preserves the quality of genetic material in tumour samples over several years and no connection between the age of a sample and its integrity – or how intact its genetic material is.

“Our unique study has provided us, and the greater research community, with reassuring results,” says Rachel Kelly, Research Technician at OTB and lead author of the study. “While the biobanking community generally accepts that samples stored at ultra-low temperatures are stable indefinitely, we were concerned that this assumption had not been thoroughly tested.”

Kelly’s findings apply to the hundreds of biobanks around the world that store samples at cryogenic temperatures, or temperatures below -150⁰C. This study validates that researchers will be able to analyze and investigate well-preserved tissues, whether they are two years old or 10 years old.

“For the thousands of patients who have donated their samples, they should know that their contribution may impact cancer research for years to come,” says Monique Albert, Director of OTB. “At OTB, we have the privilege of diligently preserving this resource and helping translate valuable patient samples into new research discoveries.”

OTB, which stores more than 185,000 samples donated by over 20,000 patients across Ontario, is one of six founding Charter Member Banks of the Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet). Through CTRNet, these six top-tier biobanks work to enhance the capacity and quality of biobanking across Canada. Read more about how OTB is collaborating to improve biobanking around the world, or visit their website at ontariotumourbank.ca.

September 6, 2017

Ontario Tumour Bank collaborating to improve biobanking globally

Monique Albert

Biorepositories (or biobanks) play an important role in many types of research. But biobanking is a complex process requiring careful management of a whole range of scientific, legal, technical and ethical issues. We spoke to Monique Albert, Director of the Ontario Tumour Bank, about the importance of good biobanks, how the Ontario Tumour Bank is working with international partners to improve biobanking globally and why this type of international collaboration is benefitting researchers in Ontario.

Continue reading – Ontario Tumour Bank collaborating to improve biobanking globally

May 3, 2017

Study bringing more precision medicine to Ontario’s cancer patients

A technician holds a blood sample and writes down information.

The advent of genomic sequencing and targeted therapies has opened the door to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer. The Ontario-wide Cancer Targeted Nucleic Acid Evaluation (OCTANE) program is a new, province-wide initiative supported by OICR that will allow more patients to benefit from these innovations while also helping to advance cancer research in Ontario.

Continue reading – Study bringing more precision medicine to Ontario’s cancer patients